gap year in israel

Check out our social media to see what our students have been up to this past week!

As you probably understand from your children and the schedule, we are building a weekly routine after the intensive orientation we had here. The students are starting to understand the framework we created for them. When is the right time to go to the gym? How do I need to organize my time in order to make it to my Hebrew class and not starving? When will I need to go to sleep and when it is ok to stay up late? Those are the questions the students were dealing with throughout the week along with questions regarding their volunteering, new classes, and new friends.

Here are the highlights from this week.

For the first Shabbat we went to the old city to Pray at the Western Wall
Then we went to the Spanish center for Shabbat dinner
After hearing a story rabbi Marc about the sanctity of the Sabbat how we have a unique opportunity to experience our first Shabbat together at the holiest place in the world.
On Saturday morning, each of us are went to stay with a family from the neighborhood for a traditional Shabbat lunch. It was the first opportunity to practice our Hebrew and taste traditional dishes of Israelis.

On Sunday evening, like every Sunday evening from now until the end of the program, the students met with their madrich in their apartment. The madrichim led a cleaning session showing the students what is the standard of the cleanliness for our apartments and how to get there. Some of the students were a little bit in shock when they realized they actually need to clean their apartment at least twice a week and someone will check it.

The first week of every semester starts with an intensive Hebrew course. The students met their new teachers and started to study on the level that is right for them. The Ulpan we are working with called Ulpan Milah. They are one of the bests Ulpanim in Israel. They believe that languages can be taught only by interactive approaches. Each class there is some kind of a learning game for the students and if you’ll walk into one of their classes you’ll see that the teachers are almost preparing them towards their next meeting with an Israeli salesman, the cashier at the supermarket or the young Israeli man/lady they will meet soon. You can check out their website

Every Tuesday, we go on our weekly field trip (Siyur). This week we took a Jeep tour in the mountains of Jerusalem on the “Burma Road.” The Israeli “Burma Road” was a makeshift bypass road which provided a way to bring supplies from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem during the Independence War when the main road was cut off by the Arab armies. The road was built by Israeli forces headed by General Mickey Marcus (who was an American army general who also served in the Israeli army.) , the students had a great time jeeping and saw for themselves how hard it must have been to bring supplies to Jerusalem under siege. If you’ve never seen the movie “Cast a Giant Shadow,” we recommend it!
Rabbi Marc hosted the first Parsha and Pizza of the year. Every week the students are welcome to come eat and relax and join the Rabbi to talk about the weekly Torah portion.
This week the group discussed the Parsha of Shoftim – Judges and the Biblical view on law-makers, law-enforcers and capital and criminal legal systems. The group spent a lot of time learning about magic, witchcraft and sorcery and why the Torah prohibits certain demonic practices. Finally the group talked about the City of Refuge – Upon entry to the Land of Israel the Jews were to establish safe havens for people who had accidentally killed someone (manslaughter) to hide from the avenging family who were baying for blood. The class ended with the group listening to a rock song by Ehud Banai, one of Israel’s most significant artists of the last 30 years, who wrote a famous song with a modern twist on the City of Refuge.

In Volunteering this Week- By Nash: I am volunteering at a fashion store in the city square. Tess and I were set to work closing small rings with pliers and cutting leather into triangular strips. The work started off tediously, but when we saw how our work was going to be used we knew the reward would be worth it. The small rings were used to connect leather that we had cut for bracelets, and other leather strips were attached to a neck-piece for a necklace. The owner of the store was really nice, and explained everything in detail. The store smells nostalgically like an old barn, and is full of colorful assortments of vests, bags, jewelry, and other nick-nacks. Overall it is an extremely educational and rewarding experience, and I look forwards to continuing it the next four months.

This week Selah activities began.
There are 22 students who have opted for our Jewish enrichment track. On Sunday the group traveled to the city center to our learning space where they had an introductory activity. Obviously the group is not in such need of introduction as they have been together for over a week but they have not until now introduced the Jewish part of themselves to each other. Rabbi Marc and Chaya the Selah counselor led a workshop about telling our Jewish life story. The group also did its first formal learning session together.
On Monday Selah went out on its first Tanach Tiyul. Every month our guide Eytan Rand takes Selah to a site of Biblical interest. This week the group went to Tel Azeka, scene of the battle of David and Goliath before going on a crawl through caves used by Jews during the Bar Kochba revolt against the Romans
Wednesday saw the group have a Bibliodrama workshop with Yael Unterman who taught the story of the Tribes that did not want to take their place in Israel with the the rest of the Jewish people and got into an argument with Moses. The workshop encourages the students to speak in the voice of the characters and became the springboard to a larger conversation about Israel and the Diaspora and where we see ourselves. This was followed by a craft activity, making our own Jewish Identity Fan. Speak to your child for more details!
Thursday saw our first classes begin, Reb Keith and Rebetzen Nili ran a double class on the holiness of Shabbat. Quite a busy and packed week! Next week we have more classes, a trip to Ma’aleh Film school and our first Shabbaton in Eretz Bereishit.

This week, in the military track-we learned krav maga, a type of martial arts used in the IDF used as self-defense instead of attacking and also the values of the IDF. Next week we are going to the City of David, an archaeological site going back to the times of King David.
Shabbat Shalom .

Before I say Shabbat Shalom I want to add some important notes:

Rosh Hashana – On the Holiday there will be no schedule though we are sending the students to do the Holiday feast with local families. If you are planning on coming for Rosh Hashana or planning on sending your child to relatives and also willing to host a few more participants from the program let me know and we’ll do the match.

lease remember your contact person for Aardvark is your child’s madrich/a. The admissions coordinator you worked with before the arrival doesn’t know what is going on with your child on the same level as his/her madrich, so please phone or e-mail them instead of the admissions team. This will get your issues resolved quicker and more effectively.

And until next time,

Gap year in israel - aardvarkisrael